Monday, September 26, 2011

Escape and Explore!

Upon returning home from a week in New York City, my own rural home on the Ten Acre Wood wasn't enough for this country girl. Saturday morning Dale and I packed up the pickup truck, loaded up the pooch, and headed north in search of a quiet campground and some fall color.

After a series of disappointing phone inquiries (we were a bit silly expecting to find a good campsite on a Saturday afternoon), we landed in the last possible campsite available in the electric loop of Banning State Park. As you can see, we were right next to the bath house with flush toilets and showers. At least it didn't smell like a pit toilet. It was a bit more noise and traffic than we prefer, but Cribbage games and a campfire with an amazing starlit night were worth the trip. I'm glad we packed the propane heater, too.

On Sunday we slept in, had brunch around 10, and set off for a hike. Banning has a self-guided trail along the Kettle River where pink sandstone was quarried at the turn of the last century. It was pretty fascinating. And we learned about the geology of the area while scrambling around on the rocks of the Kettle River, peering through potholes, and helping the Jack Russel Terrorist improve upon her Mountain Goat and Portuguese Water Dog imitations. We viewed Hell's Gate and Dragon Tooth rapids. Kayakers were enjoying the challenge. We stayed high and dry. Well, except for the dog.

I managed to get myself onto one ledge about 25 feet off the ground with a sheer cliff below me and no footholds low enough to climb back up to the trail. After handing the dog up to Dale, I needed him to lift me part way up so I could get purchase with my feet and haul myself up to the trail. Arthur could have pulled himself up with his fingertips. I still can't do a pull-up. But I am working on it.

The fall color was just starting with a few early maples displaying their fiery yellow and red. I'm thinking we may have to travel north again next weekend. We'll see.

Mostly I'm grateful that the State Parks are open so we can enjoy our traveling home away from home whenever we so desire.

And I'm grateful for a husband of 24 years who still likes to go outside to play. Thanks for the guided hike, Dale. I'll never forget what a Horst is, and I think there are still a whole bunch of Minnesota State Parks that we have yet to explore. Whatcha doin' next weekend?

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This weekend I took a Basic Motorcycle Safety Training Course. It all started with a test on Thursday to renew my permit, which I aced. That was followed by evening classroom instruction, and a test, which I aced. On Saturday morning I was the stellar student on the driving range, feeling pretty good about myself and a little too smug, perhaps.

Sunday was my dose of humility. I think I will blame it on forgetting to take my blood pressure medication. I was miserable in the rain on the course and was clutched up with too much feedback and too many instructions and techniques crowding my brain. This confusion in the little gray cells bled down into my shoulders resulting in a tense neck and an unsteady throttle wrist. Then they made us ride these tight u-turn, figure-eights in a little painted box on the pavement marked with tiny little "cones," and they kept saying "DON'T LOOK AT THE CONES, DON'T LOOK DOWN!" But if you run over a cone or go outside the box you might not pass the test for your license. I tied myself into a really good knot by the end of four hours when, in the drizzle, my cheerful, encouraging instructor, explained that he now had to switch roles and become the "objective, state test dude." I launched into full blown, hyperventilating, test anxiety. No shit!

But I don't really want to talk about that. It's behind me. I need to move on.

So when I got home my kitchen was filling rapidly with Skovs, all invited to come and help with the Garden Window installation in the kitchen. My brother-in-law, Larry, is pretty handy with remodeling projects and agreed to come help us with this one. The window looks fantastic. I really hope the siding and the wall around it improve as the week goes on. But I don't want to talk about that either.

The priority for me today was to complete the never-ending birthday sewing project I had initiated to make lunch totes for our twin goddaughters, Karen and Grace. (It was only never-ending due to my busy-ness and prioritization. So I designated today as THE day to wrap it up and ship them out.)

So the pattern (Wine and Dine) found Dale and me as we were wasting time in Cannon Falls at Fourth & Main Fabric. It's a great little quilt shop and more. They have this very cool fabric that is already laminated so that it's easy to wipe clean. And there is an amazing assortment of zippers to match all shades of color. Dale chose the lunch tote fabric and I chose the accessories. (I think Dale's choice was inspired by the ice bucket he won at New Year's Eve Bingo!)

I constructed the bags themselves, wove the lanyards for zipper pulls, and found water bottles, sandwich containers, "sporks," toothbrushes, hand soap, and ID tags at a variety of my favorite retail haunts including REI, Target, and Coborn's Foods.

Sewing and making fun things for friends and family have always been passions of mine. I hope and pray that Karen and Grace enjoy the lunch totes for awhile, at least. I certainly had funworking on them.



Yes, I passed the motrocycle license test. Thanks for asking :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Almost Autumn

When I walked the dog out back this morning, even though the mercury was past 75 and on it's way to 90 today, the marks of autumn were certainly in the air and in the fields.

Soybeans are just beginning to morph from green to gold, and much of the corn has already begun to dry and rattle in the wind.

Everything is dusty and dry for lack of rain. Hot as it got today, it really felt like a blustery bravado harkening the cooler weather following this front. My favorite time of the year approaches.

I love late September and early October when flowers are still blooming, fall crops are ripening for harvest, cool fronts keep humidity low, skies brilliant blue, and clouds puffy and white.

Sunsets and moonrises are typically spectacular. And in 10 days the equinox will mark the official change of season.

I could tell it was close tonight when I witnessed a simultaneous sunset/moonrise 180 degrees apart on the horizons.

Very cool.

(Posted this with my Blogger App on my iPhone - we'll see how it works. Loading the picture worked - placing them didn't.)